SOA Abolitionists Head to Ft. Benning
by Ed Kinane
The Central New York SOA Abolitionists have long been an active
grassroots force in the struggle to close the US Armys notorious School
of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia. The struggle has educated hundreds
of thousands of US citizens about the US deadly policies toward the people
of Latin America.
The struggle forced the Pentagon to change the SOAs name
to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC or WHINSEC).
Such camouflaging bought the SOA more time; Congressional supporters could say,
Its a new school; we have to give it a chance. But its
clear any changes are cosmetic: indeed, some of its recent students are known
human rights abusers.
Since its founding in the mid-nineties, our CNY SOA Abolitionists
have always worked with the national SOA Watch organization. Locally, we work
closely with the Peace Council. A couple of years ago the Abolitionists joined
with other local Latin American solidarity groups to form CLAC, our revived
local Caribbean Latin American Coalition.
CLAC and the Abolitionists regularly meet the second Sunday of
the month from 4 to 7 pm at the Brady Faith Center, 404 South Ave. (across from
the Southwest Community Center). Were always pleased to have new folks
check us out...and join us for the potluck dinner which is always a part of
our meetings. Bring a dish to share.
At our September 12 meeting, among other things, well hear
a report from CLAC members Rae Kramer and Julienne Oldfield who, in August,
are visiting our Sister Community, Cajibío, in Colombia. Colombia is
the country that, after Israel and Egypt, receives the most US military aid.
Colombia has had the most soldiers and officers trained at the SOA; its
no coincidence that over the years its military has had the worst human rights
record of any country south of the Rio Grande.
Each year many Abolitionists attend the annual November SOA Watch
Vigil Action at Ft. Benning. Some of us have crossed the line there
onto the base and have served federal prison terms of three or six months for
trespass, a misdemeanor. But most of us go to take part in the remarkable weekend
without risking arrest. On Friday and Saturday we hear exceptional speakers
and musicians and take part in workshops. On Sunday with many thousands of others
we solemnly commemorate the tens of thousands of Latin American victims of the
graduates of the SOA.
This years Vigil Action will be from November 19 to the
21st, the weekend before Thanksgiving. You can download an organizing packet
from the SOA Watch website, <www.soaw.org>. It includes maps, places to
stay, media tips and organizing tips. A regional nonviolence training is scheduled
for October 16. To link up with Central New Yorkers going to the Vigil
Action (and to get details of our nonviolence training), contact Mike Pasquale,
To learn more, contact the national office in DC at (202) 234-3440 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.